(Joshua) - LUX INTERNA is a fairly young project, in terms of its "formal" manifestation. About three years ago I started working on music in the privacy of my own apartment that would become the impetus for LUX INTERNA. At first, the music was simply a solo outlet for my interests and emotions. In this form I recorded a 4-track demo tape. I must admit that at first I was very skeptical of the worth of the material, beyond my own "therapeutic" uses, but I found encouragement from those close to me, as well as many overseas, such as yourself. I decided to refine the sound quality of the original demo and entered the studio with three other artists that I both respected, and felt a close bond with. This first recording became Truth and beauty and all their severity.
- Could you explain why you chose Lux Interna as the band's name ?
One of the reasons I chose this name was that it defines, in so much as there can be a definition, the aspirations behind the music of LUX INTERNA. As is the case with much of LUX INTERNA'S music there exist several layers of meaning in my use of this term. There are both "universal" and personal implications…in one aspect it is simply referring to the light within, the personal god, or highest aspect of the self. In another aspect it is the light behind and beyond the delusions of this world of impermanence. It is the fire I wish to kindle within our music. Far from being a merely abstract literary conceit, I see this light as the driving force beyond the ongoing ritual that is LUX INTERNA.
- There aren't many neofolk bands in the USA. We all appreciate the music of Backworld, Blood Axis, In Gowan Ring, and you of course; I also appreciate Boyd Rice a lot, and others, but it is surprising for me that there's such a few neofolk bands in such a big country (despite the fact that there is a huge amount of excellent bands in other musical genres). How do you understand that ?
It is odd. I think we will begin to see a greater offering within this "genre" in the future. It has been my experience that not many Americans are aware of much of the music that is termed "neofolk". Of all the emails I have received pertaining to LUX INTERNA, only a handful of them where from the States. It is hard to speak of "scenes" of definitions of music styles like "neofolk", or any other categories in art…I am always a bit leery of using such subjective terms, but I suppose that many of the issues and idea(l)s that some of the bands that I have heard labeled as neofolk stem from a deep sense of European cultural and historical legacies. Other than this I cannot really say...
When I began to send the studio version of the recordings out, I carefully picked labels that I felt would be both appropriate and beneficial for the music. EIS UND LICHT was actually one of the first labels I sent the music to, and I was more than happy to sign with them. Being familiar with the quality of the music Stephan has released, I can only feel honoured to be among such ranks. It all happened fairly quickly, but then I was in the middle of moving to Hungary and much of my life was in complete chaos. As far as finding a European label as opposed to an American one, I didn't really ever give it a thought. It was simply a matter of finding a label that I could respect and that was right for our music.
- In your demo there were two tracks that don't appear on the 10". That was "Blut für Blut" that sounds close to Blood Axis, and "Purity", an ambient track. Why did they disappear from the final track-list ?
When we recorded the studio version of Truth and beauty, I felt that I wanted to focus on the more folky and acoustic side of LUX INTERNA. Blut Fur Blut, and Purity, are both songs that may be reworked in the future, but I just didn't feel that they fit the overall mood of Truth and beauty…. I was also extremely pressed for time during this period. The entire mini-album was recorded in a nine hour stretch on the 13th of October, 2000.
- You've been living in East-Europe for a few months this year, how did this experience turn on ? Was it the first time you've been in Europe ? And do you think it will influence your musical approach ?
Yes. From February to the end of June, Kathryn, and I lived in Pecs, Hungary. The Carpathian Basin is home to such a rich and diverse collection artistic and religious traditions. It is of particular interest to me that much has been preserved in this area despite the often bloody tides of history. I was pleased to have the opportunity to backpack quite extensively though out many countries in the more eastern parts of Europe, such as Croatia, and Bosnia.
As far as this influencing the music of LUX INTERNA, it would be impossible that I would not! As with all experiences Kathryn and I have grown and changed though out our travels and I am quite sure the music will reflect this. We have also been able to experience first hand a stunning amount of traditional music, which especially in the case of Hungarian "folk", has been very inspiring. During our travels I kept a small tape recorder on me which I used as a sort of "audio diary" to document certain moments of our experience. A few of these samples I have recorded onto our latest release Absence and Plenum. Each one is labeled by location and date.
Yes, fortunately I had the chance to see SCIVIAS perform in Leipzig. I must say that I was extremely impressed by the energy and precision of their performance and live sound. After the show I also had the pleasure of meeting, and chatting with Alexander for a bit. I came away with a favorable impression of him as a person, as well as a musician.
- Did you have time to visit Budapest, Vienna and Prague ?
Yes! A trinity of beautiful cities! Our apartment was about 2 ½ hours from Budapest so we became quite familiar with that city. Unfortunately our time in Vienna and Prague was much shorter, but at least we were able to experience a taste of their auras. I will always think of these cities as being among the most majestic I have seen. Certain impressions come back with uncanny vividness even as I write this. The Chain link bridge at night spanning the sullen winter Danube, the imperialistic glory of Venetian sculpture, the wonderful romance of Prague's streets and alleyways… all these things immediately flicker within my memory. I hope it will not be too long before I see them once again.
- Did you go the last Wave & Gotik Treffen in Leipzig ?
I did go to the Wave and Gotik Treffen in 2001. Despite getting there and finding out that the hotel we booked was affordable for one reason… it wasn't in Leipzig! We ended up spending about three times as much money as we had planned on to stay in an overpriced hotel about 3km away from the Hauptbahnhof. The weather made it seem that the gods were entirely angry with the whole affair, and we found ourselves foregoing eating to be able to buy beer… Aside from these trials, it was wonderful! Those who had the good fortune to catch Coil were treated to one of the most intense shows I have seen in a long time. I was also very taken by some other excellent performances such as Scivias, Camerata Mediolanense, OTWATM, and Sorrow. I had the chance to meet some people with whom I had been in previous contact with, but had never before met face to face. Overall, the beauty of the city, the strength of some of the performances, and the general friendliness of the people who attended the Treffen made the entire experience truly enjoyable.
I live in a city in New York State, so much of the time I am surrounded by the artificial and unbalanced world of the masses. At this time in my life it is, in so many ways, necessary for me to dwell here. I look forward to the time when I can establish a more healthy residence. Part of the appeal that nature holds for me is the intensely magical beauty of something functioning within the course of its own will... the symmetry and vitality of it all! I deeply believe that the further we distance ourselves from "nature", the further we are distancing ourselves from integral aspects of our being. There is something that permeates one when one is in a non-artificial surrounding... a certain invigorating resonance.
- Apart from being a musician, you're also a painter. I have a nice painting from you, a portrait of Odin disguised like a beggar. Do you intend to practice your work as a painter any further? And does that mean that the Scandinavian mythology particularly interest you?
I don't paint half as much as I would like to due to the fact that my life seems to be unrelentingly busy at this stage. However, I would very much like to delve into this form of expression deeper. I am far from being a trained or prolific painter, but from time to time I get an impression that I feel needs to be given visual form. Our new album, Absence and Plenum, features three details from an oil painting I completed years ago. I hope to continue to integrate my visual and musical work even more in the future.
Scandinavian and Germanic mythology has always had a special place in my heart largely due to my heritage. I also have a deep interest in mythology in general, and it's language of hidden truth. Though I am opposed to the modern practice of irresponsible universalism-the tendency to combine disparate traditions and sacred teachings into a half-baked soup of unity-I do feel that one can genuinely experience deep personal truth within various belief systems. The gods of the north hold important significance for me, and though I am not comfortable with any specific religious title, I do feel a connection to them.
- Would you like to explore other artistic ways ?
I am mostly interested in any technique or expression of art that I can get my hands on and manipulate to my own devices. On a simple level, I am enamored with art because of its ability to create an atmosphere. To me, this is true magic; change in accordance with one's will. It is the projection of how one sees the outer from the inner, and projects the vision back onto the outer.
I hope the future will hold some interesting chances for collaboration. I tend to be a bit of a solitary person, and the downside to that is the fact that I don't get around to meeting many new people. As for who I would like to collaborate with... I don't want to be presumptuous!
- Kathryn, you are also a photographer. you had an exhibition a few months ago. Was it successful? What do your pictures look like?
(Kathryn speaking) I think the exhibition you are referring to was the one in Cleveland, Ohio at the Here Here gallery. It was a large group exhibition consisting of about 35 artists working in various mediums. I exhibited a piece entitled isolation which is a series of eight photographs printed with Liquid Light emulsion and painted on to cotton fabric. The images were hung in rows suspended from an 8*8 foot PVC pipe frame. Since that time I have had 4 more exhibitions, 3 groups and 1 solo, in which I have worked with the Pictorialist Gum Dichromate process. Joshua and I also had the opportunity to collaborate artistically on an installation in our own City Hall. The basic idea of the piece, entitled The Perpetual Intercourse, was to create an atmosphere that forced the viewer to experience being within a stranger's mind. The participant, so to speak, was taken through rooms that moved from the conscious mind to the subconscious, and ended in a confrontation with the realm of repressed memory. Though I am a photographer by trade, my past 2 exhibitions fall into the category of installation art. It seems my work is quickly moving outside the two dimensional frame and into a new realm where light and sound produce an altered atmosphere far removed from the traditional gallery setting. If we ever update our web page (hee..hee) we will be posting electronic gallery spaces in which all of the members of Lux Interna will be able to exhibit their respective work.
- What is, according to you, the main cultural difference between Americans and Europeans ?
I don't really feel I could answer that without making huge generalizations. There are stereotypical differences, but these, of course, never apply to everyone. Europe is definitely very different from the United States, and I sincerely hope it remains so! I can't quite put it into words, but I myself felt more comfortable with life in Pecs than I do in my own home city. A lot of my European friends tell me that Old Europa is quickly dying, but perhaps because I grew up in America Europe still seems to me to maintain more spirit than many other "modern nations". I must admit I am biased because, especially at this point in my life, I find myself more and more in opposition to many "American" ideals of life. It is a hard position to be in. There are many people I love and care deeply about in the US, and there are many beautiful places…but I think that perhaps the time is coming when I will leave.
- And what is the vision of Europe from the States ?
Another hard question to answer! I don't think it's fair to say there is one shared view of Europe in America. Some look at Europe as the epitome of culture and intellect, some have only seen it on two week long luxury holidays, some are ignorant and embarrassing to listen to, and some are well traveled and knowledgeable. There are stereotypes, of course, but less about Western Europe. I think that Americans are, on the whole, less educated about Eastern Europe. A lot of people who heard Kathryn and I were living in Hungary thought we were absolutely crazy. I imagine they pictured us huddled inside an old Soviet bunker with civil war raging all around us. As I said before, some are ignorant and embarrassing to listen to.
Spirituality is everything to me... it is living itself.
- I would say that your music sounds as if Andrew Eldritch or Bryn Dall were singing some Backworld's tracks. What's your opinion ?
Well, I have to disagree with you on this. I am not familiar with the work of Bryn Dall, so I cannot comment on that. As far as the comparison with Andrew Eldrich, I cannot say he has had any influence on me. My voice is my voice, and I sing in the way that is natural for me to sing in. It is strange to me that some find our sound "gothy", as I never thought of it in that way.
- I consider The Swans (and their related projects) as one of my favourite American bands ever. Did they influence you someway ?
The Swans are a transcendental and brilliant musical project. I enjoy their visions very much.
- Duality is important in your lyrics. Where does your inspiration come from to write them ?
The release, Truth, Beauty and all their Severity, was written during a very strange and stressful turning point in my life. It was, as in war, when the middle ground disappears and one is surrounded by the polar extremes of things. The world appeared to me as at once all sorrowful, and yet the only source of joy. This was part of what I attempted to express and struggle through with the lyrics of our first release. As for our new album, I feel the lyrics have taken an even more introspective and personal direction. They are focused more on inner tensions than outer. As far as inspiration goes, I can only say that living has provided quite enough for me!
- Do you already have plans for future releases with Lux Interna ?
As to date, we have released 1 mini-album, and 1 full length CD through Eis und Licht. We also have two tracks to be released on compilations. At the moment, we are in the midst of working on new material.
- And the usual Heimdallr question, which are your 5 favourite albums ever, and which are the last five ones you bought ?
The last 5 albums I bought or received that impressed me greatly were:
Belborn "Drei", Nick Drake "Time of No Reply", Angels of Light "How I loved Her", Lustmord "Metavoid", Johnny Cash "Collection".
As far as my favourite album ever, this is impossible for me to say for sure, but my list would have
to include (in no specific order):
Leonard Cohen "Songs of Love and Hate", Joy Division "Unknown Pleasures", The Doors "Strange Days", Current 93 "Thunder Perfect Mind", and Lycia "Ionia".
Thank you very much for the interview, and for your continued support throughout the years. It has meant quite a lot to me.